Arc de Triomphe
Place Charles-de-Gaulle. 8e, 16e, 17e arr.
Métro: Charles-de-Gaulle Étoile (1, 2, 6, A)

The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoléon in 1806 to celebrate the victories of his Grande Armée and to provide work for French sculptors. Although he originally envisioned the arch taking ten years to be built, it actually took thirty, due to the large number of elaborate sculptures on all sides of the arch. The arch is now surrounded by a large rotary and marks one end of the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Underneath the arch is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, marked by an eternal flame (see picture) and it is possible to go inside the arch, for a small fee. Its initial purpose as a symbol of military power still exists to this day in the form of the military parade held every year on July 14th.


While none of us actually went inside the Arc de Triomphe, we did use the underpass to go underneath it and see the eternal flame at the end of our walk down the Champs-Élysées on our first full day in Paris. The arch is huge (50 meters high and 45 meters wide) and has a great view of the Concorde and the Grande Arche in La Défense, since it is in the center of the Voie Triomphale. The view probably would have been even better if we had been there during the day. Although we only went to the arch once, we saw it many times, since it is such a focal point of the right bank of Paris.